Sunday, November 23, 2014

Aunt Bills Brown Candy

The year was 1936. During this year: the Hoover Dam was finally completed, Joe DiMaggio made his baseball debut, the 40 hour work week law went into place and aviation gasoline was first produced commercially.  Along with all of this, was the creation of an unforgettable candy. The recipe was named after its creator, Aunt Bill, and is known as Aunt Bill's Brown Candy.

This candy falls mid-way between praline and fudge in consistency and flavor. However, it is not much until the pecans are added. Just imagine an 8 inch square that is 3/4 inch high that includes one pound of chopped toasted pecans. That makes the candy part more of just a coating to hold all those pecans together.  Also, it adds just enough sweetness to the pecans to have you craving for more than one piece.

We all have our own favorites we create for the holidays, but it is nice to add a little something different to the repertoire of desserts.  One bite and you will know why this recipe keeps popping up on the net and in magazines year after year.

Aunt Bills Brown Candy
adapted from Bon Appetit/ Dec 2008

1 lb or 4 cups of chopped toasted pecans
3 cups sugar, divided
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup half and half
5 tbs butter, cut into cubes
1/4 cup water
4 tsp baking soda

Prepare an 8X8 inch square pan by dotting the interior bottom with butter and buttering the interior sides.  Then line with parchment paper in the bottom and two sides, leaving a little overhang on each side.  Butter the face up side of parchment as well.

In one saucepan, add 2 cups of sugar and half and half.  Place over medium heat and stir constantly.  When the sugar has dissolved, remove from heat and set aside.

In the second saucepan, fill with remaining 1 cup sugar and water.  Stir and then place over medium low heat.  Continue to stir until sugar is dissolved.  Cease stirring and turn heat up to medium or medium high.  As the mixture boils, use a wet pastry brush to brush down the sides.  Within 8 minutes the sugar water will change to a deep amber color.  Remove caramel from heat and turn down heat to medium low.

Pour caramel into cream/sugar mixture and place over heat. Stir and cook until smooth. At the start the caramel will seize up, but this is fine.  After heating and stirring, the caramel will melt and meld with the sugar/cream.  

Once smooth, attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan.  Turn heat up to medium and continue to stir and let cook, until mixture reaches a temperature of 244 degrees.  This should take about 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in baking soda.

Then stir in butter cubes until melted.  Once the butter is melted, leave mixture to rest undisturbed until the temperature drops to 160 degrees.  The cooling process takes about 20 minutes.  After the candy has cooled, stir in the vanilla extract.

Transfer to a stand mixer bowl.  Using the batter blade, beat the candy on medium for about 4-5 minutes or until it becomes very thick and loses its gloss.  Stir in the nuts and then transfer to the prepared pan. Press lightly with wet hands until the candy evenly covers the bottom and all corners of the pan.  Let cool and cut into 30 squares with a sharp knife.
                              **LAST YEAR:Chocolate Orange Sweet Rolls*